Trump urges Muslim leaders to lead fight against radicalisation

Media captionTrump tells Muslim nations to “Drive out the terrorists”

US President Donald Trump has urged Muslim countries to take the lead in combating radicalisation in a major speech in Saudi Arabia.

“Drive them out of this earth,” he told regional leaders in Riyadh, as part of his first official trip abroad.

Mr Trump blamed Iran, Saudi Arabia’s rival, for instability in the region.

His speech is seen as an attempted reset with Muslims after his harsh campaign rhetoric stirred concerns in the Islamic world.

Mr Trump had previously suggested he would be open to creating a database of all the Muslims in the US. And he had also called for Muslims to be temporarily banned from entering the US over security concerns.

But, speaking in the Saudi capital to leaders of 55 Muslim-majority countries, Mr Trump called this a “new chapter”, saying he was not there to “lecture” them or impose the American way of life.

The fight against extremism, he added, was not a battle between different faiths or civilizations: “This is a battle between good and evil”.

Media captionMelania Trump didn’t wear a headscarf, but does it matter?

“A better future is only possible if your nations drive out the terrorists, and drive out the extremists”.

But, he added, the countries could not wait for “American power” to act, and had to “fulfil their part of the burden”.

He singled out Iran for criticism, accusing it of fuelling sectarian conflict and supporting “unspeakable crimes” by the government of President Bashar al-Assad in Syria.


A tough message: By Frank Gardner, BBC Security correspondent, Riyadh

Tea servers watch US President Donald Trump deliver remarks to the Arab Islamic American SummitImage copyrightREUTERS

Behind the lavish praise heaped on his hosts, President Trump used this speech to deliver a tough message to Arab and Muslim governments: deal with the ideology that fuels terrorism now or live with it for generations to come.

He went out of his way to avoid the sort of inflammatory language he’s more usually known for. His repeated condemnation of Saudi Arabia’s regional rival Iran will have pleased the Gulf Arab leaders listening.

Unlike his predecessor, Barack Obama, this US president made no mention of human rights or democracy. But he did condemn the oppression of women.

And amongst several cynical reactions to the speech from around the region on social media, some have pointed out that here in Saudi Arabia women are forbidden to drive and there are no parliamentary elections. In Iran, the country accused by Mr Trump of being behind much of the current terrorism across the Middle East, they have just had a free election and women are free to drive.


Analysts said the speech was a change for Mr Trump, who is trying to redefine his relationship with the Muslim world after several controversial remarks, including an interview last year in which he famously said: “I think Islam hates us.”

His highly anticipated address did not include the phrase “radical Islamic terrorism”, which he had used before and is considered offensive by many Muslims. A transcript of the text published on his Facebook page included a mention of “Islamist extremism” and “Islamist terror groups”.

But in his speech Mr Trump said: “That means honestly confronting the crisis of Islamic extremism and the Islamists and Islamic terror of all kinds.” It was not immediately clear if he stumbled over the word or decided to change the script.


Islamist and Islamic: The difference

  • Islamist: “It’s the name of a dystopian ideology which is destructive for everyone, including Muslims,” says Soner Cagaptay, from the Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Islamic: “It’s an adjective for Muslims,” he adds

Meanwhile, the US and six Gulf states announced a deal to co-ordinate their efforts aimed at cutting off sources of money for extremist groups, including so-called Islamic State (IS).

Media captionDonald Trump sways along with a traditional Saudi sword dance

The countries – Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait, Oman, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain – are involved in the fight against the militants, but have been accused of backing the group and other Sunni militants – most notably in a 2014 email by Hillary Clinton released by Wikileaks.

“The unique piece of it is that every single one of them are signatories on how they’re responsible and will actually prosecute the financing of terrorism, including individuals,” said Dina Powell, US Deputy National Security Adviser for Strategy.


The agenda for the rest of Mr Trump’s trip

Mr Trump’s eight-day trip will also take in Israel, the Palestinian territories, Brussels, the Vatican, and Sicily.

The president’s visit has been overshadowed by his political difficulties at home, namely the fallout over his sacking of FBI chief James Comey.

Map showing Donald Trump's first foreign trip - May 2017
  • Monday-Tuesday, 22-23 May: Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, before visiting the West Bank on Tuesday
  • Wednesday 24 May: Rome and Brussels. Mr Trump will meet Pope Francis, then Belgian officials
  • Thursday, 25 May: A Nato summit in Brussels
  • Friday, 26 May: Sicily, for a meeting of G7 members

Source: http://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada

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Mid-Term Scorecard: Ministers Reels Out Achievements of Buhari’s Administration

Mid-Term Scorecard: Ministers Reels Out Achievements of Buhari’s Administration

Segun Adeyemi, Abuja: The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, said the achievements of the Buhari Administration in the past two years have put Nigeria on the path of sustainable growth and development.

The Minister spoke at a Special Edition of the Federal Government’s Town Hall Meeting, held in Abuja on Tuesday to give the Administration a platform to present its mid-term report to Nigerians.

“Let me say straightaway that In giving this mid-term report, I am convinced beyond a reasonable doubt that this Administration has a story to tell, a story of achievements that if we are able to continue along this path will stand the test of time and put our dear nation on the path of sustainable growth and development,” he said while giving an overview of the Administration’s achievements.

Alhaji Mohammed reeled out the achievements of the Administration as including the restoration of security to the North-East by putting an end to the scourge of Boko Haram, which has paved the way to negotiate the release of over 100 Chibok girls, in addition to hundreds of others who have been freed by the military.

“We are addressing comprehensively the issues in the Niger Delta that make the production of our oil resources so vulnerable. We have taken on corruption at its core. There are more prosecutions and there will be more convictions for public sector corruption than Nigeria has ever seen.

“We have acted to address the leakages in government spending that make corruption possible, through the zero- based budgeting and the Treasury Single Account (TSA), the government’s efficiency unit and the hugely successful whistleblower policy.

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We are restoring the sanctity of our judicial system, and we are implementing and Economic Recovery and Growth Plan designed to reset our economy and remove our reliance on oil production, and oil revenues, for ever,” he said.

The Minister recalled that the most pressing challenges facing Nigeria on 29 May 2015, when the Administration assumed office, was to restore security to the nation, with Boko Haram controlling a significant part of the North-east and the territorial integrity of the nation threatened.

He said at the same time, “corruption levels in our society had become completely unacceptable,” against the brazenness and impunity of those involved, and the lack of accountability at all levels of society, adding that these problems had to be addressed “if we were to create
the foundations for future prosperity.”

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“That future prosperity, for all Nigerians, was the overriding objective of the administration. We were, and remain, 100% committed to delivering an economy that enables all Nigerians to achieve their ambitions, no matter how big, or small. We are making strong progress towards achieving all of these objectives,” Alhaji Mohammed said.

He said the Administration is rebuilding the social contract between it and the people through accountability, adding “We are providing security, we are providing an enabling environment for business and we are delivering strong and effective public services.

President Buhari has made these commitments to the Nigerian people. He and his team are delivering. We are building a future in which all Nigerians can access opportunity and a Nigeria of which we can all be proud.

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The Town Hall Meeting was attended by the Minister of Power, Works and Housing Babatunde Fashola; Minister of Transportation Rotimi Amaechi.

Minister of Water Resources Suleiman Adamu; Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Audu Ogbe; Minister of Finance Kemi Adeosun; Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment Okechukwu Enelama; Minister of Defence Mansur Dan-Ali; Minister of Budget and National Planning Udoma Udo Udoma; and host Minister of Information and Culture Lai Mohammed.

Source: NTA

Violence, Malpractices and Others Issues ELectoral Act Amendment Will Tackle

Violence, Malpractices and Others Issues ELectoral Act Amendment Will Tackle

Mohammed Isa, Abuja: Senate President, Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki, has expressed confidence that the recent amendments to the electoral law will strengthen the nation’s electoral process and make it conform with the international best practices.

Saraki stated that when assented to, the amendments will eliminate rigging, violence and other malpractices associated with the voting process.

The Senate President according to a statement by his Special Assistant in Public Affairs, Mohammed Isa, made this known while receiving a delegation of Safran IS, an international biometric and identity management company, that visited him in Abuja.

“I believe the amendments will strengthen our electoral processes, particularly at the transmission of results to the various stages of collation,” Saraki said. “We make a lot of progress with the introduction of the Card Reader during the 2015 general elections and it is our commitment and determination to improve on that during subsequent elections.

He added: “One of the things that I think is the big issue during election is in the area of transmission of results, and it has been something that we need to improve on and we need to get that done before 2019.

“I am confident that if we can get the electronic transmission right, we will begin to have an election process that can compete with what obtains in any other part of the world.

“We want a situation that as soon as results are announced at polling units, we should be able to receive them across board. I think when we are able to do that, the challenge associate with physical result transmission would be a thing of the past,” he said.

Saraki further expressed the readiness of the Senate to partner with any organization that could provide the right solutions, and requested Safran to collaborate with the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and support their initiative.

Earlier, the leader of the delegation, Ms Jessica Van Meeteren explained that based on its experiences and successes in similar jobs in other countries, Safran IS possess the required technology and technical know-how to provide Nigeria with the solutions.

Meeteren said the company had undertook similar jobs in countries such as Côte d’Ivoire, India, Chile among others.

Source: NTA

Macron sworn in as France President

Emmanuel Macron sworn in

Emmanuel Macron became the youngest president in French history on Sunday when he officially took office following a ceremony at the Elysee Palace in Paris.

Macron, a 39-year-old social-liberal who beat far-right National Front leader Marine Le Pen with support from the political right and left, laid out the goals of his presidency in a speech that signalled his readiness to move forward with reforming the European Union.

“We need a more efficient, more democratic, more political Europe, because it is the instrument of our strength and our sovereignty,” Macron said, adding that he wanted to help the French people regain their self-confidence.

Macron’s presidency represents a break with traditional politics in France. He ran independent of the country’s established parties – centre-left Socialists and the centre-right Les Republicains – and instead founded his own centrist political movement, En Marche! (Forward!).

France’s new leader takes over from Francois Hollande, whose record-low levels of support prevented him from seeking re-election.

Macron is seeking to kick-start the French economy and overcome the sense of political malaise gripping the country.

“It will be slow work, demanding but indispensable,” Macron said.

Hollande hosted Macron for a final private conversation at the Elysee Palace before his departure.

During Sunday’s palace ceremony, France’s armed forces greeted the new state chief with military honours and twenty-one cannon blasts. As president, Macron acts as the top commander of France’s armed forces and received the country’s nuclear codes.

Following the ceremony, Macron was driven down Paris’ iconic Champs-Elysees boulevard in an open military vehicle, accompanied by troops on horseback and a motorcade for the ritual journey from the Elysee Palace to the Arc de Triomphe.

The Champs-Elysees was lined with numerous French flags as Macron’s supporters cheered for the new president, who the end of the procession laid a cross at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier beneath the Arc de Triomphe.

A committed European, Macron is expected to underline his support for a strong alliance with Germany on Monday when he heads to Berlin for a meeting with Chancellor Angela Merkel. He is also expected to name a prime minister on Monday at the latest.

Source: dpa/NAN

Passage of 2017 budget excites NANS

 

NANS President with NLC officials and Senator Sani

 

The National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) has commended the Senate under the leadership of Dr Bukola Saraki for the passage of the 2017 appropriation bill.

A statement by NANS President, Mr Chinonso Obasi, on Sunday in Abuja, said that the eighth Senate had acquitted itself creditably as a source socio-political stability in the present dispensation.

He said that the passage of the budget despite challenges showed that the Senate leadership understood the plight of Nigerian masses.

Obasi said that the passage of the budget would give Nigerians renewed optimism in the midst of the current socio-economic challenges.

“NANS feels that the leadership of the eight NASS is a blessing to Nigeria’s democracy given the prevailing political circumstances in the country.

“ Since June 9, 2015, ambitious politicians have been seeking ways to distract the National Assembly from discharging its duties diligently.

“This time around also, when President Muhammadu Buhari is grappling with some minor health challenges, we see unscrupulous politicians making unguarded utterances and heating up the polity unnecessarily.

“The Saraki-led National Assembly has provided institutional bulwarks to protect, preserve and promote Nigeria’s hard won democracy by remaining focused in its constitutional responsibilities of law making and oversight,’’ he said.

Obasi recalled that during the delayed appointment of cabinet ministers, Saraki had to wait way into the night to receive Buhari’s list of nominees.

He said Saraki did all he could to ensure the promise of submitting the names of appointees by September was met.

The NANS president said that the students’ union recognised Saraki’s salient contributions to the steady progress of Nigeria’s democracy and decided to laud him and his colleagues.

“As representatives of 40 million Nigerian students, we are happy that the Senate shunned unnecessary distractions to pass the budget, because we bear greater brunt of economic hardship in the country.

“We use this opportunity to call on the authorities to seek ways of aborting further distractions on the legislature, by by stopping further trial of Saraki   at the CCT in similar way the Kano committee suspended further probe of the Emir, Muhammadu Sanusi 111.

“Our country is passing through very trying times and only care and circumspection by officers should help the nation navigate its way out of the crossroads,’’ the NANS president said.

Source: NAN

Progressive Governors Forum Agree To Set Up Security Trust Funds

Progressive Governors Forum Agree To Set Up Security Trust Funds

The All Progressive Congress (APC) controlled states under the auspices of the Progressive Governors Forum (PGF), have proposed the setting up of a Security Trust Funds to tackle security challenges in the country.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that this was part of the recommendations reached at the second quarterly meeting of the Secretaries to the Governments of APC-controlled States in Sokoto.

The meeting was held on May 11 and 12, 2017 and hosted by the Sokoto State Government.

The meeting had as its theme: ”Setting Enabling Framework for Implementation of Progressive Governors’ Forum Policy Briefs.”

A Communique issued at the end of the meeting in Sokoto on Saturday said that ”the plan to set up the fund was in furtherance of the decision reached at its inaugural meeting held in Lagos.

”Participants advised that member States adopt and adapt the Security Trust Fund model law produced from PGF’s Legislative Expert Session.

”A critical aspect of it proposes that at least 1% of total costs of all contracts awarded by States and Local Governments be paid into the Trust Fund.”

The communiqué which was signed by the Secretary to the Sokoto State Government, Prof. Bashir Garba, commended the Federal and States Governments’ efforts in tackling security issues in Nigeria, particularly in the North East.

”Recognising paucity of resources in the country, particularly the effects of the recession, it becomes imperative to enhance the generation of resources in each of the APC states to engender implementation of policy initiatives.

”In this regard, the meeting acknowledged the critical need for enhanced revenue base of States.

”It recommends that States should adopt and adapt the Collection and Administration of Revenue Model law proposed by the PGF Secretariat to establish an Internal Revenue Service (IRS),’’ it added.

It expressed happiness with the recent securing of the release of 82 of the abducted Chibok girls.

On agriculture, the meeting stressed the need to address the dual challenges of poverty and unemployment across the country, adding that the agricultural sector is a common platform to address these issues.

‘’The agricultural sector is the main stay of the economy, hence there is the need for it to be taken to higher level.

”To this end, APC state governments as a bloc should align their agricultural policies with those of the Federal Government to maximize their benefits.

”The States should also work with the private sector to strengthen all year farming through increased investment in irrigation, farm mechanization, expand land utilization and introduce smart and precision agriculture.

‘’There is also the need to develop clusters of farmers within and across states and provide supports to the clusters across the value chain.

”To achieve this requires investing at least 10% of state budget on agriculture and the political will to ensure release of funds, proper utilization on knowledge and data base agriculture.

”It is important to develop integrated agricultural policy that provides linkages across sectors of the economy and society, like water resources, education, health, energy and industry, among others.”

On the state of education in the country, the meeting noted that the sector, particularly at the basic and post basic levels, was well acknowledged by stakeholders.

”In this regard, it becomes imperative to consider solutions as cross cutting in all the APC States.

”Although there are programmes and policies of Federal Government that are very beneficial, but states have problems accessing these benefits.

”It is recommended that APC states should fashion their education policies in a way that allows them maximise these benefits.

”APC State governments should declare State of Emergency on Education to improve education infrastructure for better learning.

”Further to this, a policy of compulsory skill acquisition for all young school leavers to make education relevant to society should be put in place.

”The APC states should aim to amend the UBEC Act, towards changing the ratio of the counterpart funding to a lesser percentage for states.

”All APC states are advised to enact appropriate ‘Right to Education laws’ and strengthen School Management Committees.

”A Public Private Partnership funding arrangement should be adopted, while also seeking funding from Development partners,” the meeting recommended.

In the same vein, the meeting agreed to continually share information, ideas and knowledge through its quarterly meetings and the PGF Secretariat.

It added that this would promote synergy across the member States and facilitate greater cooperation for sustainable development.

Source: NTA

Macron fields activists for French legislative elections

Emmanuel Macron hands EU Frexit noticeEmmanuel Macron: Frances’s President-elect

French President elect Emmanuel Macron on Thursday fulfilled his promise to draw half of the candidates for his Republic on the Move party for June legislative elections from civil society .

The party, which had never fought an election until it propelled Macron to the presidency on May 7, also kept a pledge to have a balance of male and female candidates in an announcement by party secretary general Richard Ferrand at a news conference.

It named 214 of each sex in a preliminary list of 428 candidates.

Ferrand, who said the rest of the candidates it would put up in France’s 577 constituencies were still a matter for discussion, added that the party was determined to achieve a working majority in parliament.

“We want to build a majority for change and therefore obtain for La Republique en Marche an absolute majority in the national assembly.”

Source: NAN